6 Things To Know About Coffee Shop WiFi Management

At this point in time, WiFi is to coffee shops as… well, coffee is to coffee shops. The trend of coffee shops telling people to talk to each other in lieu of using social media or checking email no longer makes sense, because what people talk about involves actively looking up things online together. Not only do customers want WiFi, but having free guest WiFi will give your business a multitude of new ways to create and maintain customer relationships so you can stand above the competition.

Another reason coffee shops need WiFi more than ever is for remote workers and students, who go for “urban sociabilityor to be around other people while working instead of alone. If you want to make sure people don’t use too much bandwidth and slow it down for others, but still want benefits of WiFi like attracting customers and increasing revenue, you can opt to use methods of controlling sites available and time spent online, which we’ll discuss in this article.

Also, consider this: people are still using their own hotspots at wireless-free coffee shops, so there’s no reason not to have WiFi and make both yourself and the customer happy, increasing customer engagement and building your relationship.

Why Do Coffee Shops Offer Free WiFi?

The UK Office of National Statistics  reported that 84% of adults use the internet on the go, and smartphones are the main device used to access the internet. Whether people are coming to coffee shops to sit and get some work done or to check social media, free internet is expected. When WiFi is done right, it can actually increase benefits for both you and your customers.

Coffee shops that offer WiFi do so for a variety of reasons:

  • To give customers what they want, which attracts people and keeps them coming back, plus making multiple purchases when they stay longer;
  • Using branded sign-in portals that build an email list, where they get to know customers and send tailored offers and communication from data and patterns in store spending;
  • To boost sales, because WiFi is proven to do exactly that;
  • To encourage people to check in on social media so new customers are invited through word-of-mouth;
  • To offer feedback surveys for a discount in return.

"At any given day during the school year, at least 120 students log-in to our guest WiFi and use our tables as study desks each day. With GoGoGuest that premium customer experience translates into revenue."

Does FREE WiFi Attract Customers?

Short answer: Yes, free WiFi attracts customers. Reasons include:

  • People spend more time at businesses with WiFi, which means they’re more likely to come back and become loyal customers, and make multiple purchases in one visit. They come to rely on you, and you on them.
  • People search online to see if WiFi is offered and read reviews. They’re more likely to go to a shop with good quality WiFi (if it’s slow, it can have the opposite effect).
  • 18-29 year olds make up the majority of coffee shop visitors – while over a third of them visited coffee shops in person, only one-fourth of 50-64 year olds had visited in person, because they usually make coffee at home, according to Statista. This means that the majority of your customers are those who want and need WiFi.

“We help your business deliver the right offers in the right message format at the right time to engage with customers at the moment when they are ready to buy or receptive to learn more.”

How to Set Up WiFi for Your Customers?

While it may be tempting to give customers access to the WiFi you use for your POS system, this is not the best way to go. Letting people onto your main WiFi makes it easier for people to access sensitive business information, and will be slower. 

Here’s how to set up WiFi that will be your best bet for security, speed and quality:

  1. Find a good Internet Service Provider (ISP).
  2. Find the best service plan that is the fastest with largest bandwidth.
  3. Choose the best equipment:

How To Create And Manage Your Guest Networks

Create guest networks for each group of people (employees, guests and business) and make sure to allow the right amount of bandwidth for each.

  • Make a hotspot with a branded captive portal for the guest internet.
  • This allows you to include security agreements and reCaptcha forms that make sure the people logging in are humans.
  • You can block sites you don’t want guests using and set limits on time.
  • The branded captive portal is where you give people the opportunity to opt in to your email list, maybe by offering a discount or membership, and then you can have their demographic information that they input, which helps you get to know them and send tailored communication.
Graph of a journey where a customer joins WiFi, opts-in to list, engages and becames a loyal customer with a Guest WiFi policy

6 Things To Consider before Setting Up Guest WiFi In The Coffee Shop

1. Identify The Needs Of Customers

Customer-focused businesses put the customer first, and usually this is done through customer service. However, there is another term that is equally important: customer experience.

This is the customer’s perceived experience. While customer service is universal, or maybe tailored to your brand, customers have their own wants, needs and habits. You can go above and beyond for the customer experience. The way you find out these specific factors about your customers is through market research, and WiFi is the way to do this.

For instance, GoGoGuest helps you utilize all the information from WiFi users, and your email list, to segment your specific customers into groups. These tell you more about them and allow you to send them offers and communication that will make them more loyal because you’re meeting their needs.

Network Speed Should Be Satisfying

A slow network speed can make the difference between loyal customers or choosing a new coffee shop. Between remote workers, students and people just checking emails, everyone needs fast and reliable internet – even teenagers using social media want their photo of your coffee art to upload to Instagram fast. For the person in a work meeting or face-timing a loved one, it’s imperative that the internet be professional quality.

While you will have to choose a provider with the most affordable fast connection and speed, this also can be affected by people hogging the bandwidth with things like streaming shows or YouTube. You can control this by restricting access to these sites, setting a limit on the amount of time people can be on the WiFi, and other filtering tools to keep people from going over a set limit.

A women drinking a coffee and using her computer while entering a WiFi Captive Portal on a coffee shop

Updated Equipment

Equipment doesn’t have to be the most expensive, but it must be up-to-date.  WiFi hardware has a lifespan, and you may need to upgrade some of the equipment, patch it, or upgrade the network, computer or software.

Security Of The Network

To ensure the best security:

  • Block unwanted and sensitive sites from viewers;
  • Change your passwords regularly;
  • Update your software;
  • Encrypt with WPA2 (WiFi Protected Access II), which is specifically for protecting public WiFi, and update regularly;
  • Use SSID to allow guests to use WiFi without gaining access to your part of the WiFi with business information;
  • Set limits on the amount of time people can spend online;
  • Have a service agreement that must be checked before log-in is allowed;
  • Have a reCaptcha or other security check for people logging in.

Password Management

Make password easily accessible, and use WPA2 – older protocols are outdated. Make sure the router has a VLAN (Virtual Local Area Network) and multiple SSIDs (Service Set Identifiers) so you can have various WiFi IDs with security sign-ins.

Choose appropriate passwords: optimize your guest WiFi by replacing guest passwords with a branded guest WiFi captive portal, and the others should be a random mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

Experienced and Trained Staff on WiFi Settings

Make sure your staff is fully trained and comfortable resetting the WiFi and handling any issues. Also, make sure they understand the guest WiFi, password and login process, and that they know they cannot give out the information for any other WiFi password (for safety and security).

Collect Customer Data For Future Campaign Through Free WiFi

So, how can you collect data from customer devices? GoGoGuest specializes in helping coffee shop and restaurant owners make the most of customer data to give them a better experience in your shop. Using information from customer purchase patterns, loyalty programs, email and SMS marketing, targeted ads and more, GoGoGuest organizes this into understandable and usable data. You can learn from patterns and other factors what your customers want and need, and offer that to them.

Some things you can do with syncing and analyzing data and using WiFi:

  • Collect first-party data with permission 
  • Gain a local market advantage with proximity data 
  • Gain visibility in frequency of visit in-store 
  • Discover which customer cohorts in-store are likely to also order through your online ordering systems
  • Introduce and test new menu items and offerings by location
  • Attract and convert third-party app consumers to purchase directly through your online ordering systems 
  • For coffee shop operators and owners focused on immediate revenue gains, start offering guest WiFi with a required purchase and time-limits

Next Steps

While WiFi is used by many coffee shops simply because people expect it, there is more to having WiFi than meets the eye. Utilizing your WiFi strategically can help your business become customer-focused and driven. By tracking and analyzing data from multiple touchpoints, you can learn about your customers and create the menu, loyalty programs, communications and offers they want and need, and get more people to your store, thereby increasing your revenue and doing what you love to do at the end of the day.

Contact GoGoGuest and request a custom tour to learn what we can do for your business today!

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